Question 266: Salam. Is there any such rulings that prescribe a penalty of imprisonment for the one who doesn’t pray? What is the Punishment for not Praying?

Answer 266: There are two different types of rights: The rights of Allah (Haqqullah) and the rights of people (Haqqunnas). Prayer is one of the rights of Allah (SWT). If one doesn’t pray he/she has committed a capital sin.

A major sin is one that being punished in hell is promised to its committer in the Quran or ahadith. In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) has promised to forgive all sins if one truly repents to Him.Regarding Haqqullah repentance would be to make up for the past and saying Istiqfar while regarding Haqqunnas it would be doing Istiqfar, giving the person back his rights and striving to obtain his satisfaction.

The way of repenting for sins can differ, because some major sins are Haqqullah while others are Haqqunnas.

In order to repent from a sin that is Haqqullah one must truly regret his previous deeds and decide not to return to his sins.  Also he must make up for his deeds if possible, like making up for the fasting and praying he has not performed.  And in order to repent for a Haqqunnas sin, in addition to regretting previous sins one must give back the person’s right unless that person overlooks his wrongdoing and doesn’t want compensation.

As for the forgiveness of major sins, the Quran says: “Say [that Allah declares,]” O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed Allah will forgive all sins. Indeed He is the All-forgiving, the All-merciful.”[1]

The Arabic version of this verse of the holy Quran:

قُلْ يا عِبادِيَ الَّذينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلى‏ أَنْفُسِهِمْ لا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَميعاً إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحيم‏

The late Allamah Tabatabei has narrated that Imam Baqir considered this verse the most hope inspiring in the Quran.[2]

The follwoings are some Ahadith narrated from our Infallbles (pbuth) regharding those who do not offer their obligatory prayers:

  1. Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (sa) narrated a hadith from Her Father, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in which He said: The one who disdains the prayers will receive Fifteen punishments from Allah. Six punishments in this lifetime, Three while dying, Three in the grave and Three on the Day of Judgment.


  1. Allah takes away the blessings from his age.
  2. Allah takes away the blessing from his rizq.
  3. Allah erases the features of good people from his face.
  4. Allah does not award him for his good deeds.
  5. Allah does not accept his plea (Dua’s)
  6. He will not be included in the Dua’s of good people (Salehin).


  1. He dies humiliated.
  2. He dies hungry.
  3. He dies thirsty. Even if he drinks the water of all seas he will still be thirsty.


  1. Allah asign a Malak in his grave to torture him.
  2. Allah tightens his grave.
  3. His grave will be dark.


  1. Allah sends him a Malak to drag him on his face while people looking at him.
  2. His account shall be taken in a severe way.
  3. Allah, the Almighty will not look upon him nor will He purify him, and he shall have a painful chastisemen.[3]

The Arabic version of this Hadith is as follows:

ِ أَنَّهَا سَأَلَتْ أَبَاهَا مُحَمَّداً ص فَقَالَتْ يَا أَبَتَاهْ مَا لِمَنْ تَهَاوَنَ بِصَلَاتِهِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَ النِّسَاءِ قَالَ يَا فَاطِمَةُ مَنْ تَهَاوَنَ بِصَلَاتِهِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَ النِّسَاءِ ابْتَلَاهُ اللَّهُ بِخَمْسَ عَشْرَةَ خَصْلَةً سِتٌّ مِنْهَا فِي دَارِ الدُّنْيَا وَ ثَلَاثٌ عِنْدَ مَوْتِهِ وَ ثَلَاثٌ فِي قَبْرِهِ وَ ثَلَاثٌ فِي الْقِيَامَةِ إِذَا خَرَجَ مِنْ قَبْرِهِ فَأَمَّا اللَّوَاتِي تُصِيبُهُ فِي دَارِ الدُّنْيَا فَالْأُولَى يَرْفَعُ اللَّهُ الْبَرَكَةَ مِنْ عُمُرِهِ وَ يَرْفَعُ اللَّهُ الْبَرَكَةَ مِنْ رِزْقِهِ وَ يَمْحُو اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ سِيمَاءَ الصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ وَجْهِهِ‏ وَ كُلُّ عَمَلٍ يَعْمَلُهُ لَا يُؤْجَرُ عَلَيْهِ وَ لَا يَرْتَفِعُ دُعَاؤُهُ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَ السَّادِسَةُ لَيْسَ لَهُ حَظٌّ فِي دُعَاءِ الصَّالِحِينَ وَ أَمَّا اللَّوَاتِي تُصِيبُهُ عِنْدَ مَوْتِهِ فَأُولَاهُنَّ أَنَّهُ يَمُوتُ ذَلِيلًا وَ الثَّانِيَةُ يَمُوتُ جَائِعاً وَ الثَّالِثَةُ يَمُوتُ عَطْشَاناً فَلَوْ سُقِيَ مِنْ أَنْهَارِ الدُّنْيَا لَمْ يَرْوَ عَطَشُهُ وَ أَمَّا اللَّوَاتِي تُصِيبُهُ فِي قَبْرِهِ فَأُولَاهُنَّ يُوَكِّلُ اللَّهُ بِهِ مَلَكاً يُزْعِجُهُ فِي قَبْرِهِ وَ الثَّانِيَةُ يُضَيَّقُ عَلَيْهِ قَبْرُهُ وَ الثَّالِثَةُ تَكُونُ الظُّلْمَةُ فِي قَبْرِهِ وَ أَمَّا اللَّوَاتِي تُصِيبُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِذَا خَرَجَ مِنْ قَبْرِهِ فَأُولَاهُنَّ أَنْ يُوَكِّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ مَلَكاً يَسْحَبُهُ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ وَ الْخَلَائِقُ يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَيْهِ وَ الثَّانِيَةُ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَاباً شَدِيداً وَ الثَّالِثَةُ لَا يَنْظُرُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ وَ لَا يُزَكِّيهِ وَ لَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

  1. Zurarah narrated a hadith from Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) that He said: Indeed, those who do not offer their obligatory prayer are Kafir.[4]

The Arabic version:

إِنَّ تَارِكَ الْفَرِيضَةِ كَافِرٌ

  1. Imam Sadiq (as) said: Thos who disdain obligatory prayer without reason are Kafir.[5]

The Arabic version:

إِنَّ تَارِكَ الْفَرِيضَةِ كَافِرٌ (یعنی من غیر علة)

  1. A man asked the holy Prophet (pbuh) to give him an advice. He (sa) said to him: Do not disdain your prayer. Becasue, if one delibrately disdain his prayer he would be disliked by Islam Religion.[6]

The Arabic version:

جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ ص فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَوْصِنِي فَقَالَ لَا تَدَعِ الصَّلَاةَ مُتَعَمِّداً فَإِنَّ مَنْ تَرَكَهَا مُتَعَمِّداً فَقَدْ بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُ مِلَّةُ الْإِسْلَامِ

Note: One who denies the obligation of prayer and this leads him/her to deny one of the pillars of Islam (Tawhid, Prophethood and Resurrection) or one of its clear subjects that all Muslims know and believe in, is considered as murtadd (apostate).

In Islamic terms, apostasy means for one to openly express and show his/her renouncement of religion and usually ends up in others being encouraged to do the same. [7]The punishment for apostasy doesn’t apply to one who has turned away from religion but doesn’t announce it. Therefore, it is correct to say that the apostate is punished for an act that has to do with society, not merely because of some personal beliefs. [8]

In other religions other than Islam, apostasy is a crime and sin and its punishment is death.[9]

Therefore, one can conclude that according to all divine religions and Islamic sects, apostasy is a crime and sin and its punishment (with a small difference in its conditions) is death.[10]

Kafir is an Arabic term (from the root K-F-R “to cover”) meaning “unbeliever”, or “disbeliever”. The term alludes to a person who rejects or disbelieves in Allah according to the teachings of the Islamic of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and denies the dominion and authority of the Islamic God, and thus is often translated as “infidel”.

Conclusion: Prayer is one of the rights of Allah. If one doesn’t pray, but believe in the Pillars of Islam the one is still considered as Muslim.[11] He must truly repent from such capital sin and try to offer his prayers as well as those have been missed. He is, however, according to the above mentioned tradtions, are considered as Kafir but this doesn’t means that he is Najis. This means that he denies the blessing of Allah.

 If He denies it as well as the Pillars of Islam and the above mentioned issues and turned away from religion, but doesn’t announce it, then the punishment for apostasy doesn’t apply to him/her.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the follwoing answer:

Index: Number of things which invalidate the prayer, answer 547.

Index: The Secret of Prayer / Sirr us-Salat, answer 589.

Index: How to make up for Qada (missed) prayers, answer 009.

Index: Fixed Times of Daily Prayers / when they become Qaza, answer 297.

[1] Surah Zumar, verse 53: ” یا عبادی الذیناسرفوا علی انفسهم لا تقنطوا من رحمة الله ان الله یغفر الذنوب جمیعاً “.

[2] Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 20, pg. 526.

[3] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 80, Pg. 22, H. 39.

[4] . Wasael al-Shia, Vol. 3, Pg. 28; Tahzib al-Ahkam, Vol. 2, Pg. 7, H. 13.

[5] . Wasael al-Shia, Vol. 3, Pg. 68.

[6] . Al-Kafi, Vol. 3, Pg. 488, H. 11.

[7] Imam Khomeini, Tahrirul-Wasilah, vol.2, pg.366; Ibn Quddamah, Al-Mughni, vol.10, pg.74.

[8] Ibid, vol.1, pg.118.

[9] See: (Deut. 13:6-11).

[10] Of course some believe that the death penalty isn’t the hadd for apostasy, but it is the ta’zir for such an act (sometimes Islam assigns a certain punishment for a certain act [this punishment is called a hadd] and sometimes it just says that the committer of a certain act needs to be punished [tazir] without mentioning any specific punishment, therefore it is up to the Islamic ruler to choose how how he/she is to be punished), hence, one can’t say that Islam’s penalty for apostasy is death.  See: Hosein-Ali Montazeri, Dirasatun fi Wilayatil-Faqih wa Fiqhil-Dowlah al-Islamiyyah, vol.3, pg.387; also see: Isa Wilayi, Irtidad dar Islam, pp.129-148.

[11] . Risalah Ajwabat al-Istiftaat, Ayatollah Khamenei, Pgs. 62-63, Q. 315.

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